Smooth Start to Summer

You will feel healthy when you drink (or slurp, or scoop) this smoothie.

You will feel your skin glow.

You will be proud of the fact that you ate spinach for breakfast.

You will be satisfied.

Whenever I eat a healthy breakfast, I feel like I’ve given my body good karma for the day. This is one of those breakfasts. What an awesome way to jump start your day with a full serving of vegetables, as well as a boost of sugar and filling fiber.

All you need to do is cut up a banana, grab some frozen mangoes and peaches, a handful of spinach,  2-4 ice cubes, and a glass of water. Start by placing the fruit and vegetables into a blender. Process for a few seconds and then pour in a bit of water (a few tablespoons). Add ice, if needed or preferred. Essentially, keep adding water and/or ice until you get your perfect consistency. Additional fruit can be used depending on the flavor you want, and of course, other fruits work well too. I ended up using two small bananas for a creamier consistency.

 

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Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

One morning when I was little, I awoke with hives from an allergic reaction. This occurred right before a trip to the dentist to get several molars pulled. I desperately wanted to jump out of the chair in the dental office in order to scratch my skin, but instead I got injected with novocaine, temporarily blind-siding me from my intense itch. My binge drink the day before of ten boxes of Minute Maid Very Berry juice, which contained raspberry juice, was the only potential culprit of my allergy. To this day, I enjoy raspberries but in moderation.

Now, let’s focus in on these babies: Raspberry Oatmeal Bars. They remind me of Nutri-Grain bars, which subsequently reminds me of recess in elementary school. These are twenty times more delicious than the processed bars. Use the best raspberry (or apricot, strawberry, etc.) preserves you can find. The seedless type is the best, but ultimately you can use any preserves, so long as it tastes good when you swipe a spoonful out of the jar. The only change I would make to these bars would be to prepare more dry, oatmeal mixture to crumble on top. But, I can’t complain: these were out-of-this-world amazing.

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup canola oil

3 tbs water

1 10oz. jar raspberry preserves (I used Bonne Maman”brand which worked out tremendously)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease an 8″x12″ pan.

Mix together oats, flour, brown sugar, salt and baking soda in large bowl until no lumps of brown sugar remain. Pour oil and water over oats and mix with fingers or spatula until evenly moistened. Set aside 1/2 cup of mixture for topping. Press remainder in pan. Spread preserves on top. Sprinkle remaining oats on top. 

Bake until golden 30-40 minutes. 

Lost Packages (and a Peanut Butter Granola Recipe)

When I was abroad in Australia, I was surprised to learn that most Aussie students did not know their mail man. They were startled that I knew my mailman on a first-name basis (shout out to Bob!), and that I would always say hello when I passed him delivering mail. I appreciate the hard work that goes into shipping packages and letters, but when packages get lost in the mail, I find myself furious at the USPS. Of course, as it is typically with humans, when something goes wrong, we like to point fingers.

This Valentine’s Day, I sent a gift to my boyfriend who goes to school far away from me. It was supposed to take 2 to 3 days, and it was sent 10 days ago. He has yet to receive it.

I made my boyfriend this granola for Christmas, and apparently I should have included a note that he should eat it within a week or two. Six weeks after Christmas, he stuck his hand in the jar and managed to eat a handful of ants. I cannot explain in words how embarrassed I was; how my homemade, crafty, little gift ultimately failed.

I figured, I’ll be ironic and send him another batch of granola for Valentine’s Day. This time around, I made a card stating that if he doesn’t enjoy the granola fast enough, the ants would. I should have known that my granola projects are cursed, because he never received the granola. By now I’m sure there are ants gnawing away at it in the back storage room of some mail facility. Or perhaps a mailman brought it home and is munching on it. If this is the case, I hope it is Bob, my mailman, that is eating the granola.

And so, as promised, here is the recipe for the ill-fated granola. It was delicious (which is just another blow, since my boyfriend would never taste it). Peanut butter, dried fruit, dark chocolate chips, what better combination?

Peanut Butter Granola

2 cups Rolled Oats

1/2 cup sunflower seed kernels (if salted, omit salt in recipe)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped peanuts

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp salt

1 cup dried fruit (I used a tropical mix)

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine oats, seeds, nuts and cinnamon in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the peanut butter, oil, sugar, honey, vanilla and salt Pour over granola mixture and stir until fully coated.

Spread gently in a 9 x 13″ pan. Bake 20-30 minutes, until toasted. Stir gently every 10 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely in pan. Add fruit and chocolate.

And here’s what he sent me, which is infinitely cuter than ant-infested granola:

A Delayed Appreciation for Apples

When I was little, I hated apples for no good reason. I believe I even had a slight case of dyslexia when it came to the word “apple” because I always wanted to say “red” instead. Applesauce was okay, but eating a whole apple seemed strange. I loved apple pie, but only when it was served with a disproportionately large scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. My mother baked apples, cored with sugar and cinnamon. These were delicious because the mushy fruit no longer resembled an apple when it came out of the oven, scenting the entire house of autumn. Even though I gradually outgrew my disinterest in apples, I didn’t start eating whole apples until I got to college. Regardless of my delayed appreciation for apples (and yes, I realize that this delay makes me a bit crazy), I still associate  apples with fall, and fall with apples.

It’s hard to believe it’s fall in the Northern Hemisphere while I get to experience a second spring, with 80 degree weather in Australia. I’m not complaining, but the lack of foliage is strange. If I were home, I’d likely be cooking up some Apple Cinnamon Streusel Muffins (Erica’s Sweet Tooth) or some Apple Cinnamon Cookies with Maple Cinnamon Glaze (How To Simplify).

Or perhaps I’d just bake some apples with my mom, and serve them with a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream…

Now, about pumpkins, another autumnal culinary symbol. Pumpkin, in the United States, means fall. Pumpkin, in Australia, is a staple in foods. It’s not reserved for autumn, or Halloween carvings, or even pies. Instead, pumpkin is a topping for pizza, a filling for sandwiches, and the base for many soups. I like pumpkin, don’t get me wrong, but maybe not on my pizza. I’d rather go for some Pumpkin Gingersnap Cookies (Two Peas and Their Pod) or Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites (Eat, Live, Run). Too bad I don’t have an oven. Thankfully, I could still make some oven-less Pumpkin Gnocchi (Shape).